Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

QOTW: Exciting times

Anyone else hear a loud "thud" late last week?

I'm still waiting for the latest Declarations of War pod-cast to be posted; the site for it appears to be down at the moment.  During that pod-cast when I was talking to three members of CSM7, Seleene pointed out that one of the reasons that CSM7 seems so much quieter than CSM6 is that they haven't had a crisis to deal with.  I can't remember if I laughed or not, but I do remember how I responded: "You will."  And then I mentioned the winter expansion and what's shaping up to be a pretty light slate of spaceship features for it.  Seleene carefully allowed as how I might have a point.

The first tiny tremor that presages that potential earthquake landed late last week with the release of the first CCP video dev-blog in several months.  The meat of it features CCP Unifex announcing that CCP has completed their release planning for the features that will be included in the winter expansion.  This is a process that CCP spends much of the month of August on after their staff in Iceland returns from their traditional long summer vacations.  It then sets the tone for the development "sprints" that consume the fall.

EVE's winter release date hasn't been announced yet of course, but I suspect it's about 12 or 13 weeks away.

After an amusing prologue followed by a minute of CCP Unifex talking about this process, the meat of the video starts at 2:10:

Unifex talks for about two more minutes.  At 1:49 through 1:51, you can see a art developer working on the upcoming ORE mining frigate.  There's also another brief glipse of an art developer working on... something else.  There's also another brief tease about orbital strikes.

But other than that, the video is DUST, DUST, DUST, and yet more DUST 514 with nary a mention of EVE Online at all.  As a matter of fact, the features talked about in this video dev-blog seem carefully chosen to annoy EVE players.  There will be the ability to add DUST 514 players to EVE corporations, the ability for DUST mercenaries to change the state of faction warfare, and the addition of DUST 514 players to Local chat in EVE systems.

That last one kind of amuses me.  EVE players have been bitching for years that Local should not be one of an EVE fleet's key intelligence tools.  But when you jump into a low-sec system this winter and see 5000 people in Local, only a tiny fraction of whom will be in spaceships... I'm pretty sure this isn't what EVE players had in mind.  We'll see if CCP decides to implement some kind of filter so that DUST players will be invisible if you so desire.

Now don't get me wrong: I still think DUST 514 is going to be a successful product for CCP, and it has the potential to be ground-breaking.  But if you're one of those players from last summer that was demanding "Where's the spaceships?" this might feel like déjà vu all over again.

So, with all that in mind, this week's QOTW:
Exciting times, and I think this autumn is going to be an amazing time for CCP and our players in both EVE and DUST.
Exciting times?  Is that the same thing as interesting times?  ;-)

Hopefully we'll get some more video dev-blogs that fill in some gaps quite soon!


  1. That "something else" looks like a low-poly rendering of the nose of a Leviathan to me.

  2. Isn't there a graph somewhere of major feature per expansion ?

    If we eliminate all the DUST related chaff from the EVE stuff, we are probably getting 2-4 new things in the winter expansion. Now I think about it I think Incarna might actually have had more EVE related changes than the next patch will.

    If there was 1 thing I wish CSM would do it is find out what % of CCP developers / artists / designers are working in each of these three categories : EVE, DUST, Other. I think that would be the most telling number CCP's ever released.

    What's really pissing me off is the GLACIAL pace of 'tiericide'. I just do not think making the unused T1 frigates better is more important than making balance changes more popular classes like Cruisers and Battle Cruisers.

    At the current rate any meaningful, systemic change seems like it is going to take half a decade to happen.

    I think that's what we should just get used to though. CCP has so few resources working on EVE that its taking them 2 weeks per frigate to balance them. That's embarassing.

    1. I'll say it again.

      According to CCP Unifex, per his video blog, DUST *is* Eve. There is no difference. They run on the same server - they are both parts of the same "game".

    2. @Anon1508: they said the exact same thing about Incarna.

      @Anon1125: Anon1508 is correct in implying that Unifex would identify everyone working on "EVE/DUST integration" as working on EVE. The same way people who were and ARE working on Incarna are also working on EVE.

  3. Sure does sound like Incarna again, doesn't it?

    Well, believe it or not, this is actually *worse* than Incarna.

    In order to bring those Dust players into Eve, CCP needs to dumb down the game as much as possible, to keep those ADD-inflicted FPS gamers interested. Now, we really know what has been behind all of these unnecessary module/ammo/hardwiring renaming changes.

    And, ships need to become all about simple pew-pew - standard fits, role-specific, etc. - no damn "sandbox". Get rid of the tiers, let CCP tell you what each ship should be used for. Let's start with "rebalancing" those frigs, since those will be the first ships that the Dust players will be using. We need more combat ships. And, we need logi frigs and EW frigs, since we don't want Dust players to need to wait to train up to fly the T2 ships.

    And, BTW, get rid of those damn race-specific mining frigs - they will just confuse the Dust players. But, get someone to put a few hours into making a stupid ORE frigate, just to stop the Eve players from whining and seeing what we are actually doing here. We don't want another unsub riot on our hands, do we?

    So, what's next? Well, go read Jester's previous post about skill training....

    1. Why does everyone see tier-acide as dumbing down the game. I see it as adding complexity. More ships useful, more stuff to remember when engaging in a fight.. more complexity. And they are far from telling you how to fit it, I remember this same complaint when the nano-nerf hit. Fittings became more varied on the whole after the nerf, and the metagame exploded since a vagabond wasn't a required ship needed in a roam just to compete.

      Assuming Crimewatch actually lands this time around, I see it as opening the door for a lot more varied and complex play. Sure, it's controversial and simplified, but here's the rub. Simple systems often lead to more complexity than complex systems. Take for instance the old POS bash tower system of SOV, simple, whoever had more control towers up owned the system. But I read multi-page doctoral thesis length papers on how to exploit and take advantage of it back in the day. Much more in depth than the current and more complex TCU/SBU system.

      Complex systems are normally made to tailor gameplay toward a specific ideal. While simplicity leaves the door open for more varied play.

    2. @Halycon - because tier-acide *is* intended to simplify the game, both for players and devs.

      The old tier system was too complicated and too flexible, making it difficult to balance for the devs (esp. since they don't want to listen to feedback from in-game experts like Azual over at www.evealtruist.com).

      Tier-balancing requires careful and small tweaks to CPU, PG, cap, sig, etc. in order to create a relative balance between *very* different ships - such as the Myrmidon and the Drake. As you introduce new modules, new ammo, new implants, etc - these numbers need to be continually tweaked, in order to maintain the balance within a wide variety of possible fits, player SP/implants, and possible uses in game - esp. since such changes will affect each ship within a tier differently. Not easy, to be sure - you need a high-quality and experienced game designer to do it right.

      Role-balancing, on the other hand, is ridiculously simple and requires nothing more than homogenizing ships. Any idiot, such as CCP Fozzie or CCP Ytterbium, can do it. Role-balancing is done by setting the ship stats such that the "best" fit for each racial ship is more or less equivalent in performance to the other racial ships, within the same role. Allowing players to create "out of the box" fits is strictly discouraged, since they make it more difficult to balance - so, as a dev, you choose the ship stats with the "best" possible role-specific fit in mind - any other fit therefore will be sub-par and thus not likely to be used by players. In the rare case where a ship is actually able to be effectively fit "outside of the box" and, if the OOB fit proves to be too good, it will just be nerfed on the next iteration of ship stat changes, to force players back to the balanced "best" fit.

      The net result is that you can fit a ship differently than intended by the devs, but it won't be an optimal fit. Sort of like fitting blasters on a Drake - in theory it can be done, but it is impractical to do so in practice.

    3. I wrote a big long reply, but it basically came down to I don't agree for the following reasons.

      1. Frigates and Destroyers at their base use speed to mitigate damage.

      2. The engagement range of Frigate weapons systems are so small the differences are more a matter of flavor than actual usage.

      3. The farther you get from Frigates the more pronounced the differences of tanking systems become.

      4. The farther you get from Frigates the more pronounced the differences of weapons platforms become.

      5. I don't see CCP rewriting the rules of how tanking and weapons systems work to allow a true homogenous role system because they've only put one man on the job, not a team such a change would require.

    4. Homogenizing ships by roles is indeed CCP's stated goal, since tiers are too difficult to balance. CCP has admitted to this, in devblogs and on the forums. It is much easier to balance ships which are more or less identical, within a specific role.

      Using the tier system, it would take years just to balance the frigs and cruisers, as well as a full team of experienced devs. Using the homogenizing role system, CCP Fozzie and CCP Ytterbium will be done by winter.

      Overall, is homogenizing good or bad? Depends on your point of view.

      Homogenizing ships means less differentiation between races - CCP thinks this is a good thing, no more FOTM and everyone belonging to the same faction. Some players think this is a bad thing.

      Homogenizing ship roles means less flexibility in fitting a ship outside of its designated role, and more predictability in terms of any specific ship's fit & performance. CCP thinks this is a good thing, since they want to emphasize fleet combat vs. 1-vs-1 combat. Again, some players think this is a bad thing.

  4. I sense a great disturbance in the Force... NGE all over again.

  5. I'm not sure on how much of a success Dust will be, and it comes down to two reasons. Visuals, and game-play mechanics. I don't care if the game is F2P (read P2W), but if it can't compete in the visual and game-play mechanic department with BF3, Crysis2 and Crysis3, COD, Socom, Ghost Recon: Future Solider, or any other triple A shooter then Dust might be short-lived.

    As it stands right now, Dust can't compete. Not. Even. Close.

    1. Well, what do you expect from a game developed by a bunch of no-name chinese developers? Dust's only, only selling point is going to be its link to a mature universe of EVE. And CCP is desperate to make it as high-profile as possible, even if it annoys EVE players a lot.

  6. Been trying Eve Online for a few weeks, on and off, after being part of the DUST 514 beta program.

    Compared to DUST, Eve Online is boring and the ship PVP is so bad it is painful. What is with all those spreadsheets, anyways? It will be good when CCP changes it all to make it more like DUST.

  7. Dust players will be filter-able in local. Should have been that way on SiSi Soon(TM)

  8. Oh come on, dude.

    "As a matter of fact, the features talked about in this video dev-blog seem carefully chosen to annoy EVE players."

    'As a matter of fact' jester? Yes it's a matter of fact _that_they_seem_like_that_ to some/a lot/all of eve players.

    This is the first time I've (been able to) see you 'loading' an issue.

  9. This post makes me look forward to shooting Eve players in the face from Dust :)

    Dust players are going to consume some resources especially in this first go around. Bittervets may moan but I think New Eden will be a much much more interesting place afterwards.

  10. This is not Incarna. This time they just ignore EVE instead of trying to destroy it by a "pay to win" item shop. The riots weren't for the stupid monocle, it was for the "greed is good" letter.

    1. Like PLEX, CCP is using misdirection in order to sneak P2W into the game. Watch and see. DUST players will be able to buy skills/items, and then transfer them into Eve: P2W -> Dust -> Eve

      My guess is that CCP will allow DUST players to transfer skills, as well as some sort of premium items, such as special ships and modules. Initially, such items are likely to be DUST-specific, such as orbital bombardment ships, but it won't take long until new ships/modules are introduced on the DUST side, which have practical value/use on the Eve side. I also suspect that CCP will allow such items to be traded via contracts or on the market, similar to PLEX. CCP can then justify the whole mess, saying that it is no more game breaking than buying PLEX.

      Since a lot of the initial DUST players will also be Eve players, you aren't going to see as much of a polarized ruckus against this. Most DUST players are going to be perfectly happy with the idea of being able to use DUST stuff they bought for RL cash in Eve, as well.

      In fact, most of the ruckus will probably come from Eve-only players (the ones who don't play DUST), who think it is unfair that DUST players are the only ones who can source this stuff. In response, CCP will graciously allow the Eve-only players to also purchase these items, via the Aurum store, and everyone will then be happy.

      The funny thing is that this just might save CCP, financially-speaking. Even if DUST fails, this might allow them to successfully introduce P2W to Eve.

  11. The "meat of the video" is actually around 1:00. This seems to best exemplify how CCP feels about the Eve players.

  12. Have been in the game industry for most of my life. It''s astonishing to see CCP which owns Eve chase after a shrinking console business when online is now booming again and that is where it's player base already is.

    How many of us want to go out and buy an old Sony or jump back and forth between computer and console even if you have this one (I have an XBox and haven't been able to bring myself to buy just a Sony console just to try Dust). Seriously what were they thinking and who were they listening too and more seriously what were they drinking in Iceland when they split platforms between Eve and Dust?

    Most companies would kill to have a game like Eve. CCP seems mostly intent on neglecting it by expanding to the wrong platform even if the gamble on the tire fps genre of dust works.

    1. Not so surprising when you consider that Eve's sub rate has been flat for years, and the new sub rate - excluding existing players adding more accounts - is declining. This is ok if you are a business owner just trying to stay afloat, but CCP also has outside investors.

      In order for CCP's investors to be able to cash out, they need the company to go IPO and/or attract a major buyer. With the current sub numbers, this just isn't going to happen, so CCP needs a massive infusion of new players. Major expansions to Eve weren't creating the necessary growth, so CCP went looking elsewhere.

      Incarna was meant to bring in new players from the digital Barbie crowd. WoD was meant to bring in new players from the vampire/goth RPG crowd. And DUST is meant to bring in new players from the FPS crowd.

      Many *small* game companies might kill to have a game like Eve - but, most *big* game companies aren't so interested in these sorts of numbers. Remember that SOE and LucasArts were more than happy to put a stake in SWG, which had better sub numbers than Eve, even after the NGE debacle.

    2. and that attitude is exactly why most of those larger game companies are suffering and going bankrupt. Rather than nurture a core audience with good attention and good expansions and grow a larger audience organically they go chasing for the quick buck buyout and usually to their death off a cliff chasing it.

      Once your investors instead of your player base own your company strategy you are doomed. Eve needed a few decent later expansions that's all instead of some fo the later turkeys, even so the player base has stayed remarkably loyal and can still be built upon if paid attention to.

      God forbid the management of CCP should actually build a great company on a great game with a great subscriber base instead of chasing a tired and overly competitive first person shooter genre on an old outdated console.

  13. I regard Crucible as the laziest patch/update ever released.
    Tier3 Battlecruisers?
    - The ship’s appearance was copied from Deviant Art (effort zero)
    - racial ship’s layout are near symmetrical (effort minimal)
    - ships bonuses, again common with a racial flavour (effort minimal)
    It has all the hallmarks of a hail mary pass by developers as a last minute switch, from something which obviously would have further alienated the players.
    And we see this continue. The new logistics frigates, pretty much symmetrical bonuses across all racials. Never mind that Gallente blasters/drones are close range brawlers or Caldari missiles/rails are long range kiters.
    As for Dust? Sorry CCP I for one, will NEVER buy a PS3. And why would Dust be any better or different than from say Team Fortress 2? (What’s not to love about being a backstabbing spy – Eve is already littered with those). Symmetrical ships still outweigh asymmetrical FPS, any day.


  14. Would be funny if Dust bunnies became the new AFK cloakers of NULL & LO... I hope bots have alot of trouble with any introduced filters

  15. Uhm we are getting 4 destroyers are the rest of the war interation in. and many more balancings including the first of the cruisers.

    1. I must have missed that part of CCP Unifex's video blog.

    2. did you miss the second blog then that followed shortly afterwards?

  16. Tell me Mr. Anderson … what use is an orbital strike … if you have nothing to shoot?

    What a load of whining you have spewed forth here, Jester. “OMG if you ignore tiericide and a new mining frigate, there is nothing in this expansion related to flying in space!”

    At least wait until the expansion hits the server before telling us how bad it is.


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